Making Good Choices at a Young Age

By Josela López, Honduras Field Communications Specialist   |  Photos by Josela López and Stephanie Reindel, Child Champion, U.S.A.

A boy living in poverty in Honduras is eager to help his family recover from the loss of their home. He loves to help his mom and would rather work than rest.

Carlos plays with his baby sister.

Carlos is a 12-year-old boy who loves to work, and he does it out of pure joy and gratitude.

Surrounded by the palm trees and ocean breezes of La Ceiba, Honduras, Carlos wakes up every morning in the cinder-block room with three beds that is home to his family of seven.

But Carlos doesn’t start the day thinking about the things he lacks. Instead, he thinks of all he can do for his family that day.

The Child Champions at Luz y Verdad Hope Center told me about this hardworking boy, and I knew I wanted to meet him. So, one of his Child Champions took me to visit.

Visiting Carlos’ Home

We could see Carlos’ house from the dirt road, but to reach their property, we had to cross a small plank footbridge with no rails that the family built.

A bridge leads to Carlos’ home.

As soon as we crossed the bridge, we were greeted by the family’s guardian, a small dog, as well as several chickens, and by the excited grunts of a little pig in a wooden pen.

In front of their one-room house is a cement patio covered by a roof of corrugated metal where the family spends most of their time.

Carlos’ father was at work when we visited, but his mom, Teresa, welcomed us with a big smile.

Carlos lay in a hammock bouncing his baby sister in his arms. He got up to greet us, eager to tell us about all that he does. But his proud mom wanted to tell us about Carlos as well. Teresa offered us seats on some comfortable hammocks. At first, I thought there was more to their house.

But as I looked around the patio at the hammocks, the fogon (a clay stove), and the stack of dishes covered by a cloth on a rough wooden table, I realized that this was all they had besides the one small room.

There were no windows, bathrooms, or doors. A spigot lashed to a wooden post provided their water.

Starting Over

Teresa started by explaining why they live in their current house. Their former house burned down three years earlier due to an electrical short circuit.

They praised God that they were not in the house when the fire broke out. But when the neighbors called her, Teresa ran to the house and was able to save only a few clothes.

Carlos with his mother, Teresa, and his baby sister.

With their home gone, the family had to look for a new place to live, and they were blessed with a community that helped them start over.

The leader of the community gave them the land, and the neighbors encouraged them to stop renting and instead to build on the property.

The family also received several donations, so they were finally able to build the small room where they live.

The neighbors donated most of the belongings they now have, even most of their clothes.

A Hardworking Family

Carlos’ dad is a construction worker, and his mom cleans houses for a living. Carlos has an older brother and sister, and three younger sisters, including baby Mia. Two are in school, but another isn’t able to go to high school because the family doesn’t have the money.

But a neighbor gave Teresa 500 lempira (about $20), so she could enroll Carlos and one of his sisters in school.

Teresa talked to their teachers and explained that they wouldn’t be able to bring all the supplies asked for in the materials list but could bring just one thing at a time. Their teachers told her she could send whatever they had they could bring the rest of the materials as they were able.

Carlos holds the family’s pig. It is his job to feed the pig, one of his many chores.

Another important part of Carlos’s life is his Hope Center. Carlos was enrolled at the Luz y Verdad (Light and Truth) Hope Center when he was 9. Teresa registered him when Rosa, Carlos’s Child Champion, told her they would help them with school supplies.

Teresa says she never imagined how much more they were going to receive at the Hope Center. She says how much Carlos enjoys going to the Hope Center because of the food and activities there.

Ready to Help

As Carlos held his baby sister and sat with his mom, it was easy to see how much he cares for his family. He wakes up every morning ready to work hard to help the family thrive and continue to build their house.

I asked Carlos why he wants to work, and he told me that he prefers to be out there and involved in some type of activity than to be home with nothing to do.

Carlos and his mom share a hug.

In Honduras it is common to see children working at a young age, some of them sent by their parents. But this is not the case with Carlos.

Carlos told us that he and his parents have an agreement: He’s only allowed to work if he keeps up his good grades. Also, he is only allowed to do odd jobs for family members like his uncles, not for strangers.

Carlos enjoys helping with anything that is needed. At home, he helps care for his younger siblings. And he feeds the family’s pig, a fact confirmed by the happy squeals we heard when Carlos came near the pen.

But one of Carlos’ favorite jobs is going to the nearby beach on the weekend to help his uncles get the boats ready to take tourists on excursions. Whenever he goes to help them, his uncles make sure he gets paid and has something to eat.

Good Choices for the Future

Teresa also explained that she prefers Carlos to be busy rather than getting involved with the bad influences which are common in the neighborhood.

I was glad I’d had the chance to meet this bright, hardworking boy with a good head on his shoulders and a big heart for his family. At a young age, Carlos is learning to make the right decisions, and learning to choose between right and wrong.

The visit reminded me of Proverbs 22:6: “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”

With the help of his family, the school, and his Child Champions, I’m confident that Carlos will continue thriving and grow into a good man who is an example to the next generation.

Give hope to a child living in poverty, like Carlos, by sponsoring today!


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